iOS app Android app More

Q'Orianka Kilcher, 'Firelight' Star, On Playing A Latina Juvenile Delinquent (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted: 04/23/2012 8:09 am Updated: 04/23/2012 4:40 pm

A lot of people know actress Q'Orianka Kilcher from her scene-stealing turn in director Terrence Malick's "The New World" (2005), but what a lot of people don't know is that the 22-year-old actress is Latina.

The Huffington Post caught up with the lovely actress this week to talk about her new role as a Latina juvenile delinquent in the movie "Firelight" (which premiered last night on ABC), her Latin roots and why she's learning Español.

We know you're part Latina. What are your Latin roots?
My father’s Peruvian! I actually have a lot of family in Cusco. I'm also Swiss, Alaskan, French, Spanish and Italian. I was in Peru last year, and hopefully I'm going to get to go again soon!

Do you speak Spanish?
I'm re-learning it, actually. When I was little, I used to speak it all of the time -- it was my first language. But I ended up forgetting it, because I stopped speaking it. But I have it in me.

Do you feel like people know you're Latina?
No, they don't. I’ve kind of gotten typecast because I've played Pocahontas in "The New World." Hopefully with "Firelight," people will see that I'm Latina! The character I play in "Firelight" is Latina!

Tell us about "Firelight."
"Firelight" is a beautiful story about a lot of young women. My character, Caroline, is a girl who has a bad boyfriend, and he ends up getting her locked up and incarcerated. Caroline was never given a chance -- until Cuba Good Jr.'s character (DJ) gave her one.

How exactly does Caroline end up behind bars?
Caroline went to jail because her boyfriend handed her the gun, they robbed a store and he gave her the gun and told her, "You're under 18, you won't even do time." He hopped over a fence and left her and she ends up getting incarcerated in a juvenile detention center. It was her boyfriend's fault. It's sad because I do know some young women that have been incarcerated because they have bad boyfriends.

What message do you hope people take away from the film?
I think it's important for us as a society to remember that the youth within juvenile justice systems are, most of the time, youths who simply haven't had the right mentors and supporters around them -- because of circumstances beyond their control. And it was so wonderful to be able to shed light on an important story like that -- and the film is actually based on a true story, so that was even cooler! Instead of locking people up and throwing away the key, it's important to invest in them and show them another way -- show them what they can do, instead of telling them what they can't do. Because by investing in youth, we're investing into the future of this great nation of the United States of America.

_mg_5655

CHECK OUT THIS SLIDESHOW ON LATINOS IN YOUNG HOLLYWOOD

Loading Slideshow...
  • Victoria Justice, 19

    Best known for her starring role as aspiring singer Tori Vega on Nickelodeon's hit series, "Victorious," half-Puerto Rican actress-singer Victoria Justice has lined up several roles on the big screen. She'll star in "Fun Size," a coming-of-age comedy for Paramount Pictures directed by Josh Schwartz ("Gossip Girl," "The OC") and "First Time," a teen romance movie directed by Jon Kasdan ("Freaks and Geeks)." Justice is also in the studio recording her debut album and she's been volunteering with the "Girl Up" Foundation to mentor young girls in Guatemala.

  • Bella Thorne, 14

    The half-Cuban star of Disney Channel's "Shake It Up," Bella Thorne is well on her way to becoming the next Selena Gomez. She's adorable, down to earth and immensely talented. She also loves hugging her fans. How cute is that?

  • Selena Gomez, 19

    The Mexican "I Love You Like A Love Song" singer parted ways with her hit Disney sitcom "Wizards of Waverly Place" in January, and is currently filming the irreverent comedy "Spring Breakers" with James Franco and Vanessa Hudgens, due out in 2013. She's also got a hot music career, and a clothing collection at K-Mart called "<a href="http://www.kmart.com/dream-out-loud/dap-120000000072290" target="_hplink">Dream Out Loud</a>." You may have also heard of her boyfriend, Justin Bieber?

  • Demi Lovato, 19

    <a href="http://www.latina.com/entertainment/celebrity/update-fights-partying-put-demi-lovato-rehab" target="_hplink">Following a stint in rehab to treat physical and emotional issues</a>, Demi Lovato reemerged stronger than ever and released her third studio album, "Unbroken" on September 20th, 2011. The first single off the album, a track called "<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fqwgenoJgg&feature=related" target="_hplink">Skyscraper</a>," soared into <a href="http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/genre/rock-and-pop/demi-lovato-s-skyscraper-soars-into-billboard-1005286532.story" target="_hplink">Billboard Hot 100's Top 10</a>and marked Lovato's first top 10 debut on the Hot 100 and second top 10 title overall.

  • Rico Rodriguez,

    As the coffee-sipping Manny, Sofia Vergara's son on ABC's hit show "Modern Family," Mexican actor Rico Rodriguez is a man in a little boy's body -- but that's precisely why we love him.

  • Tyler Posey, 20

    His first major movie role was the part of Ty Ventura, Jennifer Lopez's son in the 2002 rom-com "Maid in Manhattan," but these days part-Mexican actor Tyer Posey is all grown up and starring in his own show, MTV's dark re-imagining of the Michael J.Fox 1985 cult-movie, "Teen Wolf."

  • Adam Irigoyen, 14

    On the hit Disney Channel series "Shake It Up," Cuban actor Adam Irigoyen plays Cece Jones' (Bella Thorne) best friend, the goofy but loveable, Deuce.

  • Jake T. Austin, 17

    After playing Selena Gomez's younger brother, Max Russo on Disney's hit series "Wizards of Waverly Place" for four years, Jake T. Austin is focusing on big screen projects. The "Hotel For Dogs" star can next be seen starring as the title character Huck in "Tom Sawyer & Hucklebrry Finn," due out in 2013.

  • Diego Boneta, 21

    The hunky 21-year-old Mexican actor, who is best known for his roles on teen shows like "90210" and "Pretty Little Liars," will receive CinemaCon's Rising Star of 2012 Award at the upcoming convention of theater owners in Las Vegas. This June, he'll also star opposite Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta Jones in the Adam Shankman movie-musical, "Rock of Ages!"

  • Stefano Langone, 23

    After finishing in 7th place on "American Idol" season 10 (and flirting with Jennifer Lopez), half-Mexican singer Stefano Langone signed with <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/idol-worship/stefano-langone-signs-hollywood-records-280898" target="_hplink">Hollywood Records</a> in January, the same label that has artists like Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus.

  • Naya Rivera, 25

    Half-Puerto Rican actress Naya Rivera is a fan favorite on FOX's hit show, "Glee." As Santana Lopez, a bitchy former cheerio turned Glee club member, Naya has the best lines of any character on the show. Our favorite? "Only straight I am is straight-up bi***." We also love that Naya -- whose character Santana is a Lesbian -- is a gay rights activist who recently hosted the GLAAD Awards.

  • Jasmine Villegas, 18

    Best known as the girl in<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kffacxfA7G4&ob=av2e" target="_hplink"> Justin Bieber</a>'s "Baby" video, half-Mexican, half-Filipino singer Jasmine V is about to become a household name. The 18-year-old singer has some of the most passionate fans on the planet and over a <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/JASMINEVILLEGAS" target="_hplink">million</a> Twitter followers who proudly refer to themselves as "Jasminators."

  • Francia Raisa, 23

    As the rebellious teenager Adrian Lee on ABC Family's hit series, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," half-Honduran, half-Mexican actress Francia Raisa is always getting herself into bad situations. But that's what makes watching her character's journey so much fun!

  • Sara Paxton, 23

    Sara Paxton is best known for her scene-stealing roles in movies like "Sydney White" (2007) and "Aquamarine," (2006), but the half-Mexican actress is also the Latina queen of horror movies! After her brilliant turn in the dark thriller "The Last House on the Left," Sara signed up to play a ghost hunter in "The Innkeepers" (2011). And this year, she played real-life murderer Susan Wright in the Lifetime movie, "Blue Eyed Butcher."

  • Michael Trevino, 27

    Taylor Lautner, who? As the howling hottie Tyler Lockwood on the CW's hit series "The Vampire Diaries," Mexican actor Michael Trevino makes us forget we ever saw those "Twilight" movies. Plus, Trevino's character is half-werewolf <em>and</em> half-vampire, so he's <em>definitely </em>the total package! Team hybrid!

  • David Archuleta, 21

    He may be on a Mormon<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/27/david-archuleta-cuts-hair-for-mormon-mission_n_1382462.html" target="_hplink"> mission</a>, but that doesn't mean we'll stop caring about "American Idol" alum, David Archuleta. What can we say? We have a little <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J1-eYBbspA&ob=av2e" target="_hplink">crush</a> on Archie!

  • Nathalia Ramos, 19

    Madrid-born actress Nathalia Ramos is the star of "House of Anubis," Nickelodeon's first ever soap opera aimed at children and teens. In the series, which is equal parts mystery and comedy, Ramos plays Nina Martin, the only American living at Anubis House.

  • Josie Loren, 25

    The Cuban actress is terrific as Kaylie Cruz -- an elite gymnast who is working to go to the 2012 Olympics in London -- on ABC Family's hit series, "Make It or Break It."

  • Alexa Vega, 23

    She's best known for her role as Carmen Cortez in Robert Rodriguez's "Spy Kids" movies, but half-Colombian actress Alexa Vega made us proud earlier this year when she played Gaby Rodriguez - a real-life high senior who secretly faked her pregnancy as a social experiment - in the hit Lifetime movie, "The Pregnancy Project."

  • Tristan Wilds, 22

    This half-Dominican actor is best known for his role as troubled youth Michael Lee on HBO's critically acclaimed series "The Wire," but he can currently be seen starring as college DJ Dixon Wilson on the CW's hit series, "90210."

  • Carlos Pena, 22

    Hes the only Latino member of the popular boy group, "Big Time Rush," and we've got a big crush on Spanish and Venezuelan actor, Carlos Pena!

  • Mark Indelicato, 17

    Half-Puerto Rican actor Mark Indelicato is best known for his role as Justin Suarez on ABC's "Ugly Betty." Up next the charismatic actor will star in a "High School Musical" spin-off called "Madison High," which will air ont he Disney Channel.

FOLLOW LATINO VOICES